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Before you attempt to embark on an expedition in the frigid temperatures, make sure you fully understand how to survive winter in a tent.
It is possible to safely spend the winter in the great outdoors living in a tent, but it takes a lot of planning, preparation, and know-how.
One of the most dangerous perils that winter survivalists face is hypothermia. Staying warm is your mission, and everything else is secondary. The purpose of this article is to help guide you to a safe, healthy, and enjoyable winter in the wilderness. Tent living is challenging and difficult, but not impossible, as outlined in more detail below.
While planning and preparation take some time and effort, it can mean the difference between having a successful, tent-living winter and a dangerous one that has to be abandoned due to physical safety concerns. So, get your pen and paper, because there are a lot of supplies to gather and many rules of thumb to remember, but it’s ultimately worth it for an unforgettable winter spent living off of the beaten path.
First, remember that safe winter survival depends on preparation. Please note that it is highly recommended that you always travel with a buddy. Going on any sort of winter trek alone, whether cross-country skiing, mountain climbing, or otherwise, is extremely dangerous. While there is a certain appeal to going on a solitary mission, solo camping is exponentially more dangerous. It is simply too hazardous to spend the winter outside without a partner. So, once you’ve selected a trustworthy, experienced and reliable partner, you can continue planning.
The next step involves making a detailed supply list. Ensure that you have the following basic items before heading into the woods:
Next, once you’ve gathered all the required supplies, you can start putting your plans in motion. Remember, having the right gear is only half the battle if you don’t know how to use it. There are many important rules of thumb, and do’s and don’ts to keep in mind after you pitch your tent.
Also, remember that tent placement is one of the most important considerations in order to secure shelter and safety. Before pitching your tent, you must choose a strategic location. If possible, find a flat surface. Avoid camping at the bottom of a hill. If necessary, you may need to flatten the ground surface manually. This may mean doing some shoveling and clearing the area. You may be fatigued at this point and clearing an area involves considerable energy expenditure, so do not wait until the last minute to do it. Additionally, if you are dealing with a snowy surface, the earlier you clear it and flatten it, the better. As it gets later, the temperatures fall and the snow becomes frozen solid again. It is much more difficult to manipulate at this point. If you don’t have a shovel with you, you can use your boots to flatten the surface of the ground.
Note that tent placement is important for several reasons. Of course, you need your tent to be stable and securely placed in the ground. Additionally, if you pitch your tent on an icy, snowy surface, you greatly increase your exposure to freezing cold temperatures. You, therefore, become exposed to a much greater risk of frostbite, hypothermia and other detrimental and dangerous conditions.
You may also want to consider putting a vestibule in your tent. This can help to keep freezing drafts from infiltrating the interior of the tent. It can also help to conserve precious space, and it can even make sitting inside the tent more comfortable for you and your partner.
As mentioned earlier, build a wall of snow outside your tent to stabilize it. Blocks of snow and ice can be used to reinforce regular pegs and stakes. Whipping winds and stormy weather can destabilize a tent and cause it to come apart, leaving you exposed to the elements and in imminent danger. If the weather conditions have rapidly deteriorated, or it is extremely windy, you and your partner may need to sleep in shifts. This reduces the likelihood that the tent will be pulled apart by the wind.
Braving the cold weather in a tent is a potentially dangerous endeavor that is tricky, but not impossible. With careful planning, detailed preparation, and lots of practice in handling and using your gear, you can be ready for virtually any wintry scenario.
Part of being prepared is understanding what to do if an emergency occurs. This includes being able to signal for help, helping rescuers to be able to locate you, and applying first aid if you are injured and alone.
Spending the winter in a tent can be a rewarding, invigorating, life-changing test of your survival skills, ability to find water, shelter, and food, your general resolve, your courage, and your resourcefulness. Take the time to ensure you are ready to take the plunge, and proceed to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
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